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How NEST Designs is creating childhood memories

When we look back at our childhood, it’s often the small things that bring a smile to our faces. It may be a memory of your favourite childhood pet dozing at the foot of your bed, having your best friend sleepover or simply playing with your favourite toys on your bedroom floor. Or even a memory from your angsty teenage years, where a good majority of your time was probably spent locked in your bedroom blasting your favourite tunes. If you take a step back, all of these memories should have one common setting, your childhood home – or more specifically, your childhood bedroom.

The founders of NEST Designs, a South African online store specialising in youth furniture, understood the importance of creating a safe and warm environment for children to grow up in so that one day they too can look back on their childhoods with fondness and nostalgia.

“Everything we do is designed around creating a beautiful, safe childhood place. Whether it’s completely redoing an entire bedroom or finding that one missing finishing touch. We create that childhood magic with a collection of gorgeous imported furniture, clever storage ideas, bedding, decor accessories plus hard-to-find toys – all exclusively designed with kids and teens in mind,” says NEST Designs Co-founder, Belinda McCall.

Pioneering local ecommerce

The success and longevity of NEST Designs can be attributed to the founders’ understanding of their chosen industry and what their customers want and need for their children. It was around 2009 when Belinda, who has over 18 years of experience in the UK retail sector, noticed an evident decline in the popularity of the UK high street due to the rising popularity of online shopping. This realisation motivated her and her business partner, Vanessa Gibson – who has over 18 years of experience in clothing manufacturing in South Africa, to launch NEST Designs as a stand-alone online store, which back then was almost unheard of in South Africa.

“Vanessa and I knew from the outset that we wanted to tailor our business model to capture internet sales only, bringing together the most unique, beautiful, safe and never-before-seen products that would be exclusive to NEST Designs, or at least hard to find anywhere else in South Africa,” said Belinda.

“However, at the time South African consumers were still fairly reluctant to spend their money online. It was therefore critical for us to understand our customers’ needs and wants to enable us to overcome the barriers to online shopping,” continued Belinda.

Belinda and Vanessa had to ensure that their customers were comfortable making online payments on their ecommerce website, which is why they needed a trusted payment gateway. They also realised that to expand their business further, they needed to offer their customers a variety of payment methods.

“After all, the more your customers have available, the more likely they are to complete their purchases. We wanted to offer a combination of payment methods, namely Instant EFT, Mobicred plus a standard credit card payment process, so we made the decision to partner with PayFast in 2012. This decision enabled us to accommodate our customers’ needs and preferences giving them the ability to make payments more easily and swiftly,” said Vanessa.

Offering good quality and unique products

Other than offering secure payment options at checkout, in order to stand out and win over a loyal customer base, Belinda and Vanessa recognised from the get-go the importance of having a niche product offering. This is what led to them specialising in high-quality furniture that wasn’t readily available in South Africa.

“We noticed that it was difficult to find well designed, high-quality, safe furniture for children in South Africa, so we decided to create NEST Designs. We care deeply about sourcing products from recognised international kids’ brands that will exceed the very highest standards for safety, are designed with timeless style and are made to last,” said Vanessa.

“With our combined retail experience both in the UK and locally, we have access to a broad network of global manufacturers and therefore multiple products in our industry. We work extremely closely with our supplier partners, establishing trust and building relationships. We are constantly on the lookout for new ideas and products that our customers and their kids will love,” added Belinda.

Staying relevant in the evolving ecommerce landscape

NEST Designs has stayed on top of popular ecommerce trends like social commerce to reach a wider audience on social media platforms. Through their Facebook business page, for example, NEST Designs is able to advertise and link specific items to the product page on their website where online shoppers can make the purchase. This not only assists with their digital marketing strategy but also creates an enjoyable customer journey for their followers or people visiting their Facebook profile.

“Social commerce is key to our business. The available tools allow us to create a very compelling shopping experience on multiple social platforms with a diverse mix of relevant content from capturing consumers through to creating shoppable posts,“ said Belinda.

“Over the past 12 years, we have built our company on the reputation of our products and are now recognised as one of the largest online kids’ retailers in South Africa. Driving our business forward is extremely exciting, challenging and rewarding for both of us,” concluded Belinda.

As of late 2021, NEST Designs is the exclusive distributor in South Africa of 10 leading, sought-after international children’s brands, most of which are sold worldwide. They also deliver to countries neighbouring South Africa.

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